Cherokee Nation principal chief candidate Bill John Baker formally announced Wednesday afternoon that he will file a request for a full hand recount of this weekend’s election.
The tribe’s election commission overturned the unofficial results posted on its website early Sunday morning. The unofficial tally -- 7,600 to 7,589 -- listed Baker as the winner by 11 votes, but official figures released by the commission Monday afternoon declared current chief Chad Smith the victor by a 7,609-7,602 margin.
“We demand to know what caused the change in vote tally. We want to know who demanded the change and why,” he said at a news conference. “All Cherokees should demand to know the truth.”
“We also believe that Smith employees went in Sunday morning and came out with new results,” Baker said. “However, we won’t know for sure because we haven’t received the tapes and other information from the election commission that we’ve requested.”
Current principal chief Chad Smith denied Baker’s comments.
“I think you’ll find that nobody went behind the public barrier (at the election commission) from either camp,” he said. (OP: Meaning: My people didn't see anyone else there, LOL)
Earlier Wednesday morning, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court granted the Baker campaign’s petition for an emergency injunction, requiring the election commission to release certified vote totals by district and for absentee ballots. The court order also required the commission turn over any documentation explaining the difference in vote totals. The court order required the documents to be produced to both campaigns by 11 a.m., but the Baker camp had not had a chance to peruse them prior to Wednesday’s press conference.
Election commission attorney Lloyd Cole of Stilwell filed a motion with the tribe’s Supreme Court at 8:05 a.m. Wednesday to dismiss Baker’s request for emergency injunctive relief. Citing the tribe’s election law, the motion to dismiss states that the commission would not disturb anything in the commission’s secure location until opened by order for recount purposes or by order of the Supreme Court in an election appeal.
Baker has until 5 p.m. today to file a recount request. As per tribal law, there is a $750 fee for each district a recount is requested for and another $750 fee to recount absentee ballots. Baker said the approximately $5,000 will come from campaign funds.
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